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New Zealander to lead Sinai force for further year

New Zealander to lead Sinai force for further year

Exemplary service by the New Zealand head of the UN-mandated force in the Sinai has led to him being asked to stay on, Defence Minister Wayne Mapp announced today.
"Major General Warren Whiting has done an outstanding job during a time when there has been significant political change in Egypt," said Dr Mapp.

The Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) has monitored the Peace Agreement between Egypt and Israel since 1982.

The MFO monitored extra deployments of Egyptian troops to the Sinai area following the Tahir Square uprising. This extra monitoring was essential to maintain confidence between Egypt and Israel.

"General Whiting's leadership and professionalism has led to the MFO Headquarters in Rome asking for him to stay for another year," said Dr Mapp.

About 1650 military and 600 civilian personnel from a dozen countries operate MFO checkpoints and observation posts along the international boundary between Israel and Egypt, and patrol the region.

Dr Mapp saw the work of the MFO first hand in June this year when he visited Major General Whiting and the 28-strong New Zealand team in the Sinai.

A key task of the New Zealand team is driving duties and driver training. Each year New Zealand drivers cover about 400,000 kilometres, in difficult terrain, with temperatures in summer often hitting 40 degrees Celsius.

"The work of our soldiers in the Sinai reflects the commitment New Zealand makes to international peacekeeping."

Major General Whiting took command of the MFO in March 2010 for a two-year term, which will now be extended until March 2013.

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